February 04, 2008,
M.J. asks from Tacoma, WA on January 28, 2008
Tips for Post Tonsillectomy
My 3 year old is getting her tonsils & adnoids removed tomorrow. Does anyone have any tips on what to expect?
S.B. answers from Seattle on January 30, 2008
When my son was 5 he had the same thing done. We set him up in the spare room with a TV, and had pudding, jello, ice cream, and Popsicles on hand. Staying on top of the pain medication is really important, especially the first few days. If the timing was right for the pain meds., we would often wake him up before we went to bed to give him another pill (he would only swallow pills, not the liquid). We let him eat as much ice cream as he wanted--it was at least 4 sundaes the first day. That's part of the fun and it helps his throat to heal the more he swallows. I think it was about the 3rd or 4th day when his throat began to hurt again--someone told me that the scabs can fall off around then. Surprisingly, after a week, he was great. He began sleeping better and the quality of the tone of his voice improved. We wished we had done it sooner. The hardest part for me was watching him go under, and then when he came in from recovery all groggy.
Hopefully everything will go smoothly--good luck.
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D.W. answers from Seattle on January 30, 2008
I am an RN and work at a children's hospital in Tacoma in the Day Surgery area. We deal with this ALL the time.
Expect the worst sore throat she has ever had and focus on preventing that.
A 3 year old will typically not want to drink and, because she doesn't like the pain medicine (most don't), she will say she doesn't hurt to avoid taking it.
You want to keep her throat cool and moist. If it dries out it will hurt more. Giver her lots of variety of fluid choices to make it more appealing. It will give her a sense that she is in control of something if she can choose WHAT to drink, even if she has no option to NOT drink.
If you make it an option to take the medicine or not (or to drink or not) she will choose not to drink and may become dehydrated. You will set your daughter and yourself up for another trip to the hospital for IV fluids (this time the IV won't be put in while she is asleep.
Just matter of factly have her take the pain medicine every 4 to 6 hours (tell her the Dr. says she needs it) and keep the juice, popsicles, water, etc....flowing and you will avoid a lot of problems. To avoid stomach upset make sure she has a little something of substance in her stomach before she takes the medicine.
Watch for the signs of dehydration such as decreased urine, lethargy, dry lips, sunken eyes, etc....
Expect her to be a bit irritable. She won't feel "like herself" and give her lots of quiet things to occupy her time. Allow plenty of time for naps (with her head elevated to prevent throat swelling). She will still sound "clogged up" for a few days until the swelling goes down. Don't let her stay in bed all day (although that's more of a problem with the older kids, not preschoolers).
About 10 to 14 days out keep your eyes open for possible bleeding when the scabs fall off. A little bleeding is normal, but if it doesn't stop in about 10-15 minutes or if she starts vomiting up blood, it's a bonafide emergency. Call the surgeon and get her back to the hospital right away. They will take her back to the OR and cauterize the site to stop the bleeding (seems like this usually happens late at night or on the weekends at the most inopportune times!) It doesn't happen very often, but it's impossible to predict who it will happen to.
Good luck! Most of all take care of yourself and BE PATIENT, it will get better. Also don't forget to love your toddler up too, she will cue into the fact that something is different about sister and will probably demand more attention herself (toddlers are like that!)
Hope this helps. :-)
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T.B. answers from Portland on January 31, 2008
My son had his removed last April. It looks like I'm a day late and your daughter has already had her surgery. Just make sure that she follows the rules of taking it easy even if she "feels ok". My son was up and about too soon.
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J.C. answers from Portland on January 29, 2008
My nine-year-old daughter had her tonsils and adenoids removed right after she turned six. She had sleep apnea. The long term results were amazing. I can elaborate on that if you are curious :) However, post-op is probably what you are asking about. She wanted nothing to eat or drink, not even ice cream, unless I kept her pain at bay (don't skip doses if you can avoid it). And she slept quite irregularly after the first twenty-four hours. My daughter was six, and trying her best not to take the medicine because of the flavor, so by all means have some tricks up your sleeve! The problem was that as the pain killer wore off, she would refuse liquids, which made her throat dry out and caused the scab to crack and hurt. I know it sounds disgusting, but that is what happens. If I kept her out of pain she was willing to stay hydrated and then the healing process wasn't so bad. I am sure your surgeon will talk with you about the scab itself and what to expect, but the hydration part is really important, and although kids are psyched for the "treats" they get promised it's not really that great. Imagine eating/drinking with strep throat- who cares what is being offered!! I rented a ton of movies and sat with her and held her a lot. She was extremely woozy at first, which is why the pain killer wore off initially. I was worried about her being nauseous after the gas so I didn't push it (I have had surgery and too much pain killer post-op made me throw up -painful for a raw throat). I guess the thing is that it's a delicate dance trying to keep little ones hydrated. What else? She got constipated from all of the pain killer slowing her system down - maybe you could ask for a preventative? It's hard to remedy through diet since eating is painful. I would suggest having suppositories on hand otherwise. It took two rounds of them to get her regular again, and she had a bad stomachache along with the constipation. No one deserves to experience that on top of everything else -and no one prepped me for that! All in all, she healed faster than expected, has almost no memory of the whole thing, and is a healthy fourth grader: it was all worth it. My parting thought is: know that you aren't alone if you cry or feel nervous after she is wheeled away to surgery -yes, it is a big deal but also, she will be fine! And take lots of naps! You might lose some sleep (well, more than usual). Good luck! It's not really as rotten as it sounds - I had to dig deep into my memory banks to remember!
E.C. answers from Seattle on January 29, 2008
I had my tonsils out when I was 13 it was a lot harder on an older child then it is on an older one. Soothing soft foods. Ice cream seem to help. Puddings. The troat is still sore so soft foods help. They will also give you a list after her operation.
Don't let her jump up and down though . My sister and brother both did and ended up having the scabs come off and needed to go back to the doctor because they bled quit abit. I was very still and did not do any jumping around and had no problem. But it is hard to keep a three year old still.
Cool soothing foods. Soft foods and lots of TLC.
It will be nice not to have the sore throats to go through like with Tonsils. I remember the high fevors I ran so many times. I was glad to have mine out.
Hope this helps a little.
She should heal quickly.
Have a Sunshine Day
Watching it snow.
Irishnn from Eatonville Washington
After a few days nice chicken soup not really hot. The salt in it seems to help healing.
T.H. answers from Spokane on February 04, 2008
My mother does foster care and her four year old little girl had hers removed last week. It wasn't bad, Destiny (the four year old) was just tired and didn't eat much but she felt fine. Don't be too worried, it didn't seem to bother her at all. It was kind of funny too, when Destiny asked my mom what they were going to do once they got the doctor's office and not knowing what to say without scaring her my mom told her she was getting her snore box removed! Now she tells everyone she doesn't snore anymore because the doctor took it out! It was really funny.
R.B. answers from Portland on February 03, 2008
I hope your child is well. Our lil girl had hers out in Nov. Days 3-5 were the most painful for her. Popsicles are great but watch the sugar.